What do you need? I need a Father…a Pastor, I responded like a child who had been battered and abused. That was one of my first encounters with Bishop Steven J. Bennett more than eight years ago. As I sat in his office tattered and torn, I was in desperate need of a safe haven to heal and mend. Bishop Bennett flung open the doors of House & Prayer & Praise and his heart.
Perusing the many remembrances of Bishop Bennett, they resonate that this was a special man…an extraordinary man of character and integrity. He touched the hearts of bishops as much as he touched the hearts of the ordinary guy. He had a way with people that brought them into a place of comfort where they could just be themselves.
His preaching style demanded experiencing it in living color. His preaching went beyond mere words. Bishop Bennett would preach with every ounce of his being and his body. I will forever remember him running from one side of the church to the next in such colorful animation that demanded your attention. We’d cry, laugh and in many instances cringe at the rawness of truth emanating from him. I once told Lady Valorie Bennett, his wife, that if anyone fornicates who attended House of Prayer & Praise they were going straight to hell because Bishop don’t mince words. You didn’t have to question the wrongness of your actions, he made it plain, simple and raw! He left us doubled over in laughter exclaiming, “Did he just say that?”
Bishop Bennett was a Father in every sense of the word. He taught how to pray hard, praise hard and play hard while doing it with intensity of worship until the Lord. For me it was “freedom church.” You were free to be you. He didn’t teach the strongholds of religion, but the freedom in relationship. His life was a demonstrative orchestration of righteousness, integrity and living the abundant life in King Jesus in every arena of his life.
One of my favorite moments was when he would gaze over at Lady Val and begin to bellow Stevie Wonder’s song, “Knocks Me Off My Feet”. This expression of his unyielding love resonated in celebration of his love and commitment to the covenant of marriage that he espoused as an exemplary husband and father.
Even as I write this email, I will never forget one Wednesday evening when Bishop Bennett told everyone to give me their emails so I could send an inspirational message to them every week. He had no idea that God had told me that very thing, yet I was reluctant about doing it. He was always the pusher who believed in your dreams and not afraid to push you there. He wasn’t afraid to push you forward while providing you with incredible leadership.
Not long after coming to House of Prayer & Praise I was planning to host a conference. I had been searching for a venue when Bishop Bennett walked up to me and said, “I really want you to have the event here.” I was overjoyed and elated. Oh Break Out had a home! He had come to me and I didn’t have to be concern about his motives or clandestine actions. Both he and Lady Val has always been extremely supportive. Wow! What a concept?
A few years down the road, Bishop Bennett stopped me after service. He stated that I was a business woman and I did it well. Then he proceeded to say that it is time for me to take Oh Break Out out of House of Prayer & Praise because it is a business conference and not a church service. He went on to say that I needed to take it to a hotel. The very next year we hosted Oh Break Out at a hotel. Believe me I was scared. All of my expenses increased. I felt that if he believed in me, I had no choice but to do it. I did. It was a huge success.
Bishop would always wonder how in the world I was able to do all the things I did. His belief in my faith walk was so encouraging, because sometimes it was hard to walk. Just before Oh Break Out last year, Bishop Bennett said to me that he was glad that he wasn’t me. He said, “God never gave me to do anything where I didn’t have any money! Jacqui your faith is so big.” I said to him that I was glad that I wasn’t him because he had to pastor all of these people and deal with their diverse personalities. He encouraged me to move Oh Break Out back a few months and I heeded his instruction. I valued his insight and input as a leader and as a Spiritual Father. I will truly miss his wise loving counsel and instruction.
Bishop Bennett was a remarkable man. Words can’t adequately express the breadth and depth of his greatness. He is an unsung hero. Every life he touched feels the impact of this incredible lost.
For me, there is a major void in my life. I lost a true Father, yet I am not fatherless. His teachings, love, joy and instructions are with me always as I carry on.
Bishop Bennett has been an incredible Father to me over these past several years. Now he is with his special friend, my sister, Patricia Holmes Ellison. I am forever grateful to Patricia for the gift of Bishop Steven J. Bennett, her special friend from junior high school, and the House of Prayer & Praise family. #showersblessing #HOPPstrong #HOPPcarryon
Bishop Bennett was a remarkable man. Words can’t adequately express the breadth and depth of his greatness.
I don’t write these things merely to make you feel uncomfortable, but that you may realise facts, as my dear children. After all, you may have had ten thousand teachers in Christian faith, but you cannot have many fathers! For in Jesus Christ I am your spiritual father through the Gospel; that is why I implore you to follow the footsteps of me your father. (1 Cor 4:14-17)
It is quite true to say that a man who sets his heart on holding office has laudable ambition. Well, for the office of a bishop a man must be of blameless reputation, he must be married to one wife only, and be a man of self-control and discretion. He must be a man of disciplined life; he must be hospitable and have the gift of teaching. He must be neither intemperate nor violent, but gentle. He must not be a controversialist nor must he be fond of money-grabbing. He must have proper authority in his own household, and be able to control and command the respect of his children. (For if a man cannot rule in his own house how can he look after the Church of God?). He must not be a beginner in the faith, for fear of his becoming conceited and sharing Satan’s downfall. He should, in addition to the above qualifications, have a good reputation with the outside world, in case his good name is attacked and he is caught by the devil that way. (1 Tim 3:1-7 Phillips)